Lately, I’ve felt somewhat foolish, because the pictures you see of a guy holding fish, the pictures you see of a Jeep on the road with a driver, those pictures are (except for the incredible guys I’ve fished with from Oklahoma to the BassOnline crew in Florida to South Carolina) are mostly… well, me.
But I’m not trying to “create” the perception that it’s a team rather than an individual effort, because that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
When I’m home in Upstate New York, I reside at my grandmother’s house. I tell people it’s so that I can help her out (she is 82 and no longer drives and can use a hand with the heavy lifting like laundry, grocery shopping, and the like) but the opposite — namely that she helps me, with almost every aspect of life — is every bit as true, if not moreso.
My aunt, Erin Wheelock, was kind enough to ship out our first online order of shirts the other day, and has helped in numerous aspects of the project as well.
Another aunt, Tara Healey, helped me design the route and contact vendors along the way where I might sell the shirts, and is a source of daily inspiration.
My mother, well… there are not words. She has encouraged every dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
My cousins Everett Lockwood, and Joe and Chris Critelli, all roughly my age, are always inspiring me with outdoor ideas, their passion, and we can always pull a funny, hillarious, or outrageous memory from our childhoods to get a laugh when we need one.
We all need a ‘we’ in our lives, and those are some of mine. They have not been as blessed as I have, to travel, to fish, and to meet so many of the amazingly kind anglers that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, which makes their effort, help and support all the more amazing and selfless.
But to not mention them, recognize them, and thank them… every chance that I get… would be a tremendous mistake on my part. And even if they were not, could not be, with me on the water, on the road, they were with me every step of the way. And to quote the late, great Muhammad Ali: “”Anywhere I go, there is always an incredible crowd that follows me.”
My crowd is smaller, but no less incredible, and I wouldn’t be here, doing this, writing, fishing or fighting cancer without them.